The 1987 Stock Market Correction

The 1987 Stock Market Correction

The events of October 19, 1987, at the time, were looked upon as a full-fledged stock market crash. In retrospect, no depression or even a recession was sparked by this dramatic fall in prices, but the event is historic nonetheless. One of the aspects that makes it so memorable is the fact that to this day, no one really knows what caused it. There are many different theories as to the reason of the correction, but its all speculation.

The '87 correction, known now as Black Monday was the first ever global stock market crash. The final numbers are staggering, with the Hong Kong stock exchange losing over 45 percent of its value, the Australian stock market losing almost 42 percent of its value, the UK lost over 26 percent, while the New York Stock Exchange lost 22.6 percent.

The October 1987 fall ended up being the second biggest single day percentage drop in the history of the stock market. The biggest one day decline happened in 1914 when the Dow Jones lost just over 24 percent. This drop was attributed to the fact that the market had been closed for four months due to World War I prior to that day. The biggest point loss in history was the first day of trading after the attacks of September 11th, when the Dow lost over 680 points.

Starting in mid-August of that year, the Dow began to correct itself. A series of 100+ point drops plagued the market over the next two months, but the drops were always followed by recoveries. Even days before the October 19 drop, there had been a major dip, and the next day, stocks were back up. It wasn't until the Black Monday collapse that stocks went down and stayed there.

Possible causes for the crash are usually broken down into a few different categories, including market psychology, illiquidity, overvaluation and program trading. Other possible causes for the correction are attributed to a major storm in the UK which happened on the previous Friday. The storm did not allow traders in the UK to finish their days work and this caused many in the US and around the world (especially in Hong Kong where the crash first started to happen) to sell.

While time has shown the events of October 1987 weren't quite as bad as some had feared, dramatic market corrections are a part of investing and while they can be terrifying when they happen, they shouldn't take a savvy investor by surprise.


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